High End Intergraded comparisons, Marantz, McIntosh, Levinson, Luxman....

Ive been trying to listen to higher end integrated amps but its not easy. 

Im looking for owners comparisons. 


I had a Marantz PM-KI Ruby that replaced lots of low powered SET gear with high efficient speakers im no longer using. 

I settled on a nice old pair of KEF Reference Model Fours from about 1999-2000. They are very hungry speakers. Very revealing. 

The Marantz Ruby was rather nice in all ways. 

Im trying a marantz PM-10s1 and although i was expecting a Bigger Better Ruby it turned out to be much more than that. I also got it for about 35% off list so it dramatically lowered the price point compared to competitive brands and products. 

I dont really want any DAC in the box. I actually wanted a good phono stage. Id buy a unit with a DAC but I wont be using it and I Do need a phono stage for a Rega with a AT OC9 MC cart. Limits choices based on additional costs. 

The PM-10 has a Much larger soundstage. Larger and tighter focused images. Wide, Tall and Deep. Much more detail and inner detail. Crystal clear presentation. Very tight and deep bass. Punch and slam. Very life-like presentation of instruments and vocals. Not necessarily bright but extended. Im rather happy but also very surprised. 

I feel maybe I should be exploring some other Integrated amps before settling in on this PM-10. Not easy. They cost allot to ship, return. 

The McIntosh MA7900 is an option but its more money than I spent and im not sure how it compares to the Marantz PM-10. Many say they are very similar in sound character. 

The Mark Levinson 5805 is also a bit more money and is said to be more so detailed and brighter. Is that true? Ive read the PM-10 is smoother and richer. I dont want any more detail or brightness. 

The Hegel 390 and MF MX8 lack phono which drives up the cost for me. Im not sure of their character in comparison to a McIntosh or Marantz. 

The Luxman seems to be one to try, the 507uxii but it has much lower power and some say its rather bright with a bass boom. 


Appreciate peoples comments based on what you've heard. 



can a moderator please remove the r in integrated in the title. I cant for some reason. 

I'd delete your OP and start over. Much easier that way. Copy and paste the rest.

Yeah, it's killing me slowly. LOL I blame Siri usually ;-)

The MA7900 is very heavy. Expensive to ship. Although Im not far from Binghamton NY and McIntosh home. Also AudioClassics. 

My buddy has the McIntosh MC402 that is rather good but is a much different beast than the MA series. Hes used BAT and PS Audio preamps with it. 

it really depends on the sound and features you are looking for


we have a huge selection of integrated amps so we would be open to having a

discusion with you


we have hegel coda naim nad icromega anthem krell and unison research and t+a


personally never liked Mcin tosh gear no ttransparent


like luxman better


the t+a gear is amazing


Dave And Troy

Audio intellect NJ



Beware of the audio dealer who says their gear is better than brands they do not carry.  I didn't think this was still happening in 2022 but once again, Audio Intellect, NJ proved me wrong.

Naim Supernait 3 - Tons of power, Fully Class A preamp, headphones and MM phono section. 

Rega makes great integrateds with phono stages that will match nicely with your turntable. I think they’re all MM though….but I also think the Elicit R would drive the KEFs…..you could find out practically for free for 60 days…

Have a Marantz PM11S3 built in phono stage, dual mono amp, integrated.  Sound stage as you describe above.  Been playing this amp for ten years.  Very happy with all aspects of it.  I vote Marantz. 

Apologies; for not a direct answer to the models listed. I've had the McIntosh MA352; 200Ws driving Dynaudio 4ohm Contour 20s and two subwoofers (dual sub ports) for about a year now.  

Can't say enough good things about the sound stage, detail at low volume; it just gets better with age. Upgraded from a Marantz PM8005; not a fair comparison to the Ruby.  Really enjoyed the Marantz, but the Mac was a massive upgrade.

Thanks. Yeah Marantz put allot of attention to the phono stage, on the PM-10 its outstanding, MC-H works beautifully with an AT OC9xls.

Im trying different DACs too. A Denafrips, Holo Audio, Wyred 4 Sound. They all sound so damn different! The PM-10 is insanely revealing and true to the sound of your source. The Holo Audio is full, rich and organic but doesn’t have the detail and nuance of the W4S DAC. The W4S is what I know best and its rather lean and a detail whore. Not that there’s anything wrong with that :-)

I have a CD source with a dCS ring dac which sounds complete different still. The Marantz is crazy revealing.

You really can’t beat the PM10.  That’s an heirloom quality piece.   I’d love to have one someday.     However, I’m surprised that you prefer the phono stage in the 10 over the Ruby.   When I had the PM11, I used an outboard phono stage.   With the Ruby, I don’t bother.  I’ve A/B’ed it against my Chinook and my Rega Aria.   It just wasn’t worth the lost convenience.  I stuck with the Ken Ishiwata designed phono stage in the Ruby.  

The grass isn't always greener......

Your description of the Marantz could pass for quite the endorsement. Don't rush into anything and see how the Marantz ages. You may end up keeping it.

All the best,

Mola Mola, ASR, Geman Physiks, Gryphon and Audionet make great integrated amps.

I believe the Luxman you may want is the 590AXii.  It’s described as the warmer and more tube like of the integrateds from Luxman.  

You can’t go wrong with the Hegel H390. It really is one of the best out there. It just works. Has a DAC, but yes, no phono stage. I am currently doing my own shoot out between a Gryphon Diablo 120 and Hegel H590. Not sure just yet which one wins. Both are really, really good. But they are different. Just not sure which different is the one… you do need try to demo in your room/space. It is almost impossible to determine what any amp will sound like or be preferred, without it being in your room with your speakers. Have fun with your search!

I have heard the Kinki. It is good. Another worth looking at is the Japanese integrated Class D amp, Spec. The Spec sounds like a tube amp.


How about the analogue version of the Boulder 866. Stellar reviews. Good luck ! 

Happy listening 



Rega makes great integrateds with phono stages that will match nicely with your turntable. I think they’re all MM though….but I also think the Elicit R would drive the KEFs…..you could find out practically for free for 60 days…

Consider a big upscale into an entirely different performance strata,  and go audition the REGA OSIRIS integrated amplifier .


@steviet :

With integrateds, consider finding one where the phonostage and DAC are done via plug-in cards (most high-end ones done this way, anyway). Phonostage could last a long time, but my view is that DACs obsolete sooner, so nice to be able to update, or just avoid if you don’t need a DAC. For whatever it’s worth, I’ve bought most of my gear used, the savings enabling me to access quality otherwise less accessible

I’ve worked with the folks at Acoustic Sounds (used McIntosh) and had good experiences

Some ideas not mentioned above (none of which I’ve listened to), and all assuming used to be in reasonable price range:

Accuphase (used, from Canada - will get you in price range)


Jeff Rowland

Mark Levinson 585.5 (.5 has phonostage, and DAC)

Musical Fidelity

Also, could do separates from companies with small form factors & so take much less space, if that’s the issue (Bel Canto, Benchmark)

Looking forward to hearing your decision! (And sounds like you really enjoy the Marantz - I’d rather have Marantz’s best gear than Levinson’s lowest end (the 5805))

Have a great day!


I own the Hegel H390 and do love it, however I can’t say it’s perfect. It gives me probably 93% of what I’m looking for, specific I know. I wasn’t able to demo it against much, only the Michi X3 and for me it was better sounding. It has a very smooth sound, one that isn’t fatiguing and I can listen to it for hours straight. I listen to a wide range of music, and the only thing it lacks for me is energy during drum and bass or heavy metal. The smooth side of it seems to lose that 7% extra I’m looking for. Now I listen to loads of electronic music, and for everything else it is incredible, so it’s not a problem with electronic music, it’s that it doesn’t seem to do aggression well, that grab you by the neck punch you in the face. For all other music types I don’t want that, and it delivers vocals, instruments, and everything else with a muscular ease while remaining utterly balanced. I don’t know if my speakers are contributing to this (Spendor D7.2), or the room etc, but in my system this is what I have found. Therefore if you are after that massive slam, I’m not sure I can recommend the Hegel, but it does everything else wonderfully.

If anyone has a different experience I’d love to hear what speakers you use, Spendor are British and are known to be polite which is why it may not be the amp. Why the whole system setup is important, not one component!

Marantz makes some nice stuff. I own the pm14s1 and I think it sounds fantastic, similar to what you described in reference to the pm10. Although I am now running a Sugden A21se signature class A, I am hanging on to my pm14s1. Besides, they no longer make it, which is sad, as I don't really like the currently available Marantz products (looks wise), except for maybe the ruby. 

I have the Hegel H390 powering KEF Reference 5’s and get more than enough slam on most tunes and for those that I more, I have a subwoofer. But honestly, I rarely use it.


All the best.

@steviet,  Thank you for this post.  The subject matter interests me as I am a bit of a tube head, but I bought the Ruby (both integrated and DAC/SACD) on sale from Music Direct--just had to try Ken Ishiwat's final piece, which he said was his greatest accomplishment. The Ruby is nearly outstanding.  

So your post that upgrading in the Marantz line to the flagship is influential to me. If you think it's a big step up from the Ruby I'd like to hear it.  Instantly my mind thinks, I could trade the Ruby (both amp and CD/DAC) back into MD for your Marantz and just use my tube DAC with it. 

@bikesandguitars , Interesting!  I too have a Chinook and I honestly could give it up for the phono in the Ruby.  I've gone back and forth a couple of times between them, critically listening (or trying to!) for differences.  They do have sound differences, but just as you say I could use the Ruby and be quite happy--not feeling I'm giving anything up. That's pretty great. 

@curiousjim love this, thanks for sharing. I love the tone of the speakers, but the amp is so good that I was hoping it was the speakers that lacked the aggression. In the future it’s an upgrade to the speakers I can now look forward to auditioning. 

I have the largest surround receiver Murantz makes.  I certainly would not consider anything Murantz makes as audiophile.  Luxman would be my first pick.  However, they cost $11,000 retail.  I can buy one for $7,000.

I enjoy my Mac receiver, but I hear a lot of praise going to Hegel, Luxman, and Gryphon—not just in this thread but several online forums.  If I get restless those would be the brands I’d look at.  For me there’s comfort in buying from a well known company because resale will likely be faster.  Enjoy the search.

Good question @szore and does the Marantz sound more like a McIntosh than the others? 

The Luxman's and others aren't powerful enough. I lived in a 2 - 16 wpc class-a SETs for almost 20 years! Been there. Moving onto something different. 

And some are Great but way too expensive! Twice the price of the PM-10. 

The Hegel is an option to ty but its softer and smoother, much less punch and not likely the best match for my system. Im using a large pair of KEF Reference 4's and they are very revealing and can serve up plenty of bass if thats what it sounds like. Id rather control more of the warmth or detail through the source. But I dont like dead neutral amps like the Yamaha's and others. I find them too dull. 

I do have almost 300 hours on the PM-10 now and its bloomed. Its really rather fantastic. I do have about 30 or so days to decide if im keeping it. 

@jbhiller I loved the Ruby. The PM-10 was much more of a difference and upgrade than I bargained for. But its Very revealing and will be brutally honest about what it thinks of your sources and speakers. For good or bad! 

Lots of good feedback. Thank you all. 

Have you ever heard a dealer recommend a product they didn’t carry?

The marantz sound is nothing like the McIntosh sound. The marantz can’t compare to the better McIntosh integrateds, from today or from 20 years ago, nor can the marantz compare to the hegel’s, rogue, and I’m sure others. 
If you like the marantz then keep it, but there are much better amps but you will have to pay a little more for used amps.

The marantz is low powered and any of the amps i mentioned above will have more real power/reserved power to drive your speakers. I had the flagship Hegel at the time, the H300 and it had 250 watts, the H360/390 have even more power. Besides the power, Hegel is a more neutral sounding amp. The dacs in any of these integrateds are a compromise compared to the vendors stand-alone dacs.

The rogue Cronus magnum is a powerful integrated amp with the kt120 tubes and it has a decent phono stage in it. Much warmer sound and more power than the marantz.

The McIntosh amps are warm sounding but have much more power and much better sound than your marantz. The new integrateds are 350 watts with many features inside, but is much more expensive. Look at a older MA6500 or MA6900

One amp, EXPOSURE 3010S D2 

no frills, no glamor, not paying for fancy outer shell or fancy marketing.

Just pure, clean power and clarity.

Like straight wire and gain.

it doesn’t add or subtract anything.

Prat, pace, rhythm, etc.

Just listen to the music.

Other integrateds to consider are Bryston and Moon Audio. The former with a 20 year warranty and the latter with 10 years.

@rbstehno Hehehe, the first Mac fan... Yeah, Ive listened to McIntosh for years. The MC amps in particular.  
Better? There's no better, just different. Better is subjective. 
The PM-10 produces a rated 400w into 4 ohms and over 550w continuous into 4 and 8 ohms on a bench with peaks over 1000w. Go listen to one, if you haven't. And in terms of power the Music Fidelity makes them all sound weak.  

The MA6xxx have too little power and they aren't particularly transparent. The MA7xxxx are better. The MA9000 better still. The MA7900 is less of a model than the PM-10 while the MA9000 best its at $12,500. 

Ive shopped the MA6xxx for a long time. Not worth the money, more status and eye candy at that point. And they are getting old now. 

I ruled out the Hagel because of that "soft" and less transparent sound which isn't better to me. As I ruled out the Yamaha's becasue they are the polar oppisite and again not better to me. 

Better??? I hate that word. Example, everyone is saying these new R-2R DACs are "better" and after trying a couple at a few thousand dollars I can say they aren't so great. Far from better to me. Soft, mushy and lack detail. Some think thats better i guess. 


i can't recommend Hegel enough. had both 390 and 590. Run them with B&W 805 and Stirling. More than enough bass. I do use a subwoofer but not for the blast but for the depth. Yes, it should have a phono stage but there must be a simple workaround. good luck 

I have zero experience with 98% of the amps mentioned here. This is not a comparison, it’s a testimonial. I’ve owned a Hegel H390 for a year and a half. It’s connected to Dynaudio Contour 30s. I still look forward to listening and can, and do, listen for hours without any sign of fatigue. 

Just my 10cents. 

You’ve gotten some really great advice here but I will add another one to consider, the Aesthetix Mimas integrated. You can add a phono card and a DAC card but they are both optional. When I bought mine I compared, in my system, Hegel 360, Luxman 590, Ayre AX-5/20, Ayre EX-8. I almost bought the EX-8 as I liked that one the best until I heard the Mimas. It’s extremely musical with great dynamics and a very detailed midrange. I have both cards in mine and really like them. Overall  the best integrated I’ve heard. If you have a dealer who will let you try it in your system I would recommend it. Good Luck!

The MA7900 was not a good experience for me.  I currently have the Hegel 390 and I love it!  As many have said, can't recommend it enough.  No phono like you said, but I got the Hegel Phono Stage, the V10, and it performs above it's price range.

If you can find a used Plinius integrated, it will give you great bang for the buck. Mine has a very good phono stage that has a switch for MC to MM, but when I put in a Sutherland phono stage, the improvement was very noticeable. I know their distribution in the US has thinned out and one of the company founders I believe passed away.

So many choices, I found that when you get one that works well for your system, stick with it. As long as it can provide the power and clarity at the volume you like, a change in the source can be much more impactful (and of course speakers).

You might consider one of the Rogers High Fidelity tube integrateds. Great sound, powerful, tight & nuanced like only the best solid state amps can do. Rock solid build quality, point to point wiring, full lifetime warranty! Pricey but worth it.